November 19, 2002
Poet, Priest, and Peace
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Daniel Berrigan to Read and Lecture at Smith College
Editor's note: Berrigan will
be available for media interviews while he is on campus. To arrange,
call Marti Hobbes, (413) 585-2190.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-Smith College will
host poet, priest, and peace activist Daniel Berrigan for two
campus events on Dec. 3 and 4. The first event will be a poetry
reading at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3, in Helen Hills Hills Chapel.
(Following the reading, at 5:30 p.m., Father Berrigan will celebrate
a Roman Catholic Mass at the Chapel.) The second event will be
a talk on "The Discipline of the Mount: Dante's 'Purgatorio,'"
at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, Neilson Library Browsing Room,
followed by a reception. Both events are free, open to the public
and wheelchair accessible.
Berrigan's considerable literary achievements are often overlooked
in the context of his heroic life. A Jesuit priest, he is best
known as a tireless activist for peace and social justice and
one of the major icons of the Catholic left. Berrigan has been
arrested hundreds of times for his acts of civil disobedience.
In 1967, he was sentenced to three years in prison with his brother
Phillip for destroying draft files with homemade napalm in protest
of the Vietnam War, and was active in the Plowshares raids against
General Electric's production of nuclear weapons. He also teaches
as a visiting scholar at countless universities, runs retreats
and workshops and is regularly nominated for the Nobel Peace
Berrigan has authored over 50 books of poetry, protest, biblical
interpretation, prison journals and a play, "The Trial of
the Catonsville Nine," which dramatized the events surrounding
his Vietnam protests and garnered a Tony Award. "Time Without
Number" was nominated for a National Book Award and won
the 1957 Lamont Poetry Prize. Berrigan's most recent books include
"And the Risen Bread," an ample retrospective collection
of poetry released in 1998, and last year's "Wisdom: The
Feminine Face of God," which discusses the Wisdom of Solomon
in terms of contemporary culture.
Just as Berrigan bravely lives a life of dissent in the public
eye, his poetry takes a similarly daring plunge, unflinchingly
revealing the interior sides of his public battles. A profound
faith is evident in his poetic meditations on Scripture, yet
he struggles openly with doubt and despair. Berrigan meets the
Gospel on a deeply personal plane, speaking to John the Baptist
as a friend and brother and writing Lazarus monologues never
voiced in the pages of the Bible. While his integrity and faith
can seem saintly, Berrigan's true poetic gift is devotion to
the human. He treats his own weaknesses with the same honesty
and compassion with which he faces the world. The candor, simplicity
and decency that distinguish his life also mark his poetry as
a gift of astonishing personal and moral generosity.